Reader Q&A and Recommended Reading

by Julie on February 11, 2014 · 4 comments

My daughter Lindsey and I recently received a reader question through the U.S. News & World Report site where we wrote a blog for two years.

The question is a common one so I wanted to share it here. Here’s what the reader wrote:

My daughter is not going to a school for a certain program & is currently undecided on a major. Great GPA, not so great ACT scores, participated in service projects, cheer & leadership roles in highschool. Scholarships that I’ve viewed on her college prep webpage are so specific & unrelated to her…I don’t know where to go. Any advice/support is appreciated.

And here is Lindsey’s reply:

I used several websites – FastWeb.comZinch.com and Cappex.com – to find a TON of scholarships. You’re right, some were very specific and unrelated to me, but a lot were more generalized. I would also recommend looking at the specific school/schools she wants to attend, parents’ employers, specific leadership/cheer/service scholarships, etc. It can be difficult to find scholarships if you’re more of a general high-achiever instead of a highly specialized student, but hopefully those suggestions will help!

I thought Lindsey’s answer was spot on. And I’ll also add that the bulk of Lindsey’s scholarships came from her college in some way, either through a general university scholarship, or scholarships from her major, sorority, etc. That’s not to say that outside scholarships aren’t worth pursuing; this was just our experience.

For good reading on paying for college, I always suggest Ben Kaplan’s How to Go to College Almost for Free (great for a scholarship approach) and Zac Bissonette’s Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents (a more overall approach).

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And I’m also happy to announce that U.S. News has put out a new guide on paying for college for which Lindsey and I were contributors. You can see the different chapters included by using the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon.

Do you have anything to add to our response to the reader’s question?






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Marvin February 11, 2014 at 7:19 pm

I think the way you and your family went about paying for college is amazing! There are a lot of scholarships out there I remember being on the Dean’s Student Advisory Board and it always blew my mind how hard it was to give out a scholarship because nobody would apply.

Julie March 11, 2014 at 7:19 pm

That’s so interesting, Marvin. Lots of unclaimed money, huh?

Janet February 21, 2014 at 11:14 am

Hi Julie, Just found your website. Love it, especially the story on how you and your daughter navigated the scholarship route to paying for college. NPR had a story today about what $60k annual tuition at Duke really pays for. (Think facilities, staff, faculty, financial aid.) It’s another chink in the armor of these highly-endowed elite schools which claim that they provide your undergraduate with an amazing education. I believe it at the graduate level, depending on the specialty, but for most 19-year-old freshmen who have no idea what they want to study, it’s rare for one of them to take advantage of some highly decorated faculty member and an on-campus state-of-the-art research center.
Some of these large elite schools really do a disservice to naive undergrads and their families. But also need to not fritter their semesters away with too much fun. The stakes are too high in our winner-take-all society these days. Students need to be much more serious about their studies at any institution of higher learning. Not many generalist jobs out there for the average, decent kid. It sounds as though your daughter has a good head on her shoulders. Thanks, Janet

Julie March 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Hi Janet, thanks for your comment. I love the discussion.

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